By Alexandra Branscombe
WASHINGTON, DC – Livestock were the single largest source of methane gas emissions in the United States in 2004, releasing 70 percent more of the powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than the oil and gas industry, according to a new study.
The new findings based on satellite data from 2004 provide the clearest picture yet of methane emissions over the entire U.S. They show human activities released more of the gas into the atmosphere than previously thought and the sources of these emissions could be much different than government estimates.
The contribution of livestock to methane emissions was 40 percent higher in 2004 than what the federal government had previously estimated for that year based on industry reports, while emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than these government estimates, according to the new study published last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.